Day of fellowship, appreciation with veterans
They served their country more than half a century ago. Now these veterans of World War II and the Korean War are residents in Kerr Lake Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
On Thursday, veterans of more recent service dropped by to pay their respects during a special “World War II and Korean War Comrade Fellowship Day.”
Phyllis Maynard, Disabled American Veterans service officer for the Henderson area, arranged the event.
“It’s an opportunity to shake hands with comrades to let them know they are remembered,” she said.
Several members of the Henry S. Peoples DAV Auxiliary Unit No. 67 were present. Catherine McKnight, commander of the unit, led the group in prayer. Douglas Maynard, Phyllis Maynard’s son and a member of the auxiliary, led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Pam Pegram, activities director at the center, said there are nine World War II or Korean War veterans who are residents of the center. Five attended the Fellowship Day event. Each had a story.
Wayland Bowen is an Army veteran who served in Korea and Japan. His story is just part of a family saga of military service. Bowen’s sister, Mary Southerland, said their father carried a New Testament with him during his service in World War I. Their oldest brother carried it with him during World War II and another brother during his peacetime service.
More recently, that same New Testament accompanied two nephews during their years of military service, although “it’s tattered and torn now,” Southerland said.
For Clinton Capps, a Korean War era veteran, it was the Cold War he was fighting. He served in an engineer unit in Austria from 1950-1952, a tense time between the Soviet Union and the United States. Whenever there was an alert, he took his position near a railroad tunnel. His job, if the Russians attacked, was to blow up the tunnel.
An alert could come at anytime of day and anytime of year, so Cold War had more than one meaning to him. Remembering alerts in mid-winter, he said, “My ears almost froze off.”
Walter Twisdale served for three years and nine months in the Navy during the Korean War.
Mark Davis entered the Navy in 1945 near the end of World War II and served aboard the AP-177 in waters around England and Germany.
Alden “Buddy” Keesler served in the Navy from 1945 to 1949. He is a double amputee, although not as a result of his Naval service. He had blood clots and circulation problems that led to the loss of both legs.
Several veterans came as visitors for the Fellowship Day to greet the resident veterans and share their stories.
Horace Cannady served in Korea from 1952 to 1954.
“I was married on Thanksgiving Day,” he said, “and by Christmas Day they had me in Korea.”
He saw action around the 38th parallel, which eventually became the dividing line between North Korea and South Korea. He said he was lucky enough not to be wounded, but some of his fellow soldiers were not so lucky.
“There was so much going on you just tried to keep on moving,” Cannady said.
He spoke of the veterans as brothers.
“You call them ‘brother,’ because once you sit in a foxhole with someone you’re brothers,” Cannady said.
Frank Madigan, a Korean War era veteran who came to pay his respects to the older veterans, said veterans of World War II and the Korean War are dying off and their stories are dying with them.
He suggested getting high school students to record the veterans’ stories. “Maybe some of these young people, instead of writing a composition, would take it on as a project to tell these veterans’ stories,” he said. “We’re going to forget about them, and it’s a shame.”
The urgency of reaching out to veterans was reinforced by the recent deaths of two veterans who resided in the facility.
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